Sprouts are making a comeback in the 21st century because we’re becoming more conscious of the importance of vitamins and minerals in our diets and the need to reduce calories and fat and increase fiber. Besides, they’re inexpensive, especially if you grow your own. They’re a “live” food and easy to grow indoors year-round.
Nutrient Rich Sprouts
Because every seed contains the embryo of a plant not born yet, it holds within itself the nutrients needed to nourish its growth. Those nutrients are still in the sprout, but it has used up some of its stored carbohydrates and fat. It also adds water and becomes a little factory, creating vitamins and minerals. What you get is a reduced-calorie food rich in protein and more nutrients than the seed itself. A good example is soybeans and garbanzo beans. In them, the vitamin C, which starts out as a mere trace becomes as much vitamin C as tomatoes. For vitamin E and some of the B vitamins, consider wheat berries. The vitamin E increases by six times and there are more of the B vitamins after they've sprouted. But there's more: a class of proteins that are also antioxidants are contained in wheat berries. These are the magic substances that remove poisons from the body and aid enormously in keeping us young.
Sprouts are so great that if someone important like General Mills had developed them, they would be called the nutritional miracle of all time. Unfortunately, they don't have a press agent, so most people only eat them by accident when they dine in a Chinese restaurant. Since they haven't been discovered by a big food producer, they’re the best bargain in food available anywhere. Like a nickel a pound.
When Ponce de Leon, the Spanish explorer landed in Florida, he came searching for a fountain he believed could restore youth. Don't we all? Old Ponce didn't find it, but we can. One of the great health secrets of our time is the regenerating and life-giving properties of sprouts. They contain two important bodily requirements that we need all the time–vitamins and a high concentration of food enzymes. The body's enzyme activity is kept high by both of these.
Vitamins and minerals make up enzymes, the most vital factor for sustaining the body's life processes. In fact, it's so important that if we didn't have them, we would be dead. And guess what? Enzyme depletion causes aging. The life processes in the cells are decreased every time enzymes are depleted.
Free radicals and other toxic substances damage the cells when enzyme activity decreases. This further hinders cell reproduction. The body is unable to replace old cells with healthy new ones fast enough. The loss in the body's enzymes is what causes aging and increased susceptibility to disease as we age. The decrease in immunity that we see so often in older people is caused by the imbalance of immune cells. The replacement of immune cells isn't fast enough to protect the body from disease. If you want to stay young and healthy, keep your enzyme activity at a maximum. Sprouts do this for us. They keep us young! Too bad, Ponce.
How Sprouts Help with Aging
Just how do they do this? First of all, they are easy to digest. If you eat the mature beans, grains, nuts, and seeds, your body has to work much harder to digest them. They are essentially pre-digested when they are sprouted. The concentrated starch is broken down into simpler carbohydrates, and the protein becomes free amino acids. For that reason, much of the work has already been done for our own enzymes. Who hasn't had trouble digesting beans? Just sprout them, and your digestive system will be happy with you.
Sprouting doesn't just add the good vitamins and minerals and work to help us digest our food, it also removes some of the troublesome anti-nutrients such as enzyme inhibitors, making them even easier to digest. More good news–some people who can't eat grains like wheat because of the phytates in them, can eat all they want when the grains are sprouted, with no problem.
These enzymes are only found in raw foods because cooking destroys them. Given a choice, if you want to find the fountain of youth, you should always choose raw foods because of their life-giving enzyme activity. However, compared to sprouts, they come in a far second. The enzyme content may be increased as much as 43 times when they are sprouted.
By TTS Cofounder Botanical Chef Omid Jaffari